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London fire victims ‘may never be identified’



London fire

London, June 17: The dead bodies of devastating London Grenfell Tower fire may never be identified, said London Police.

At least 17 deaths have been confirmed in the 24-storey apartment blaze that erupted on Wednesday, but the toll could go up as many residents were reported missing — feared still trapped inside.

Around 70 people were said to be unaccounted for since the fire, according to the Press Association. Emergency services were spending a third day searching for bodies in the Tower in North Kensington, BBC reported.

Six victims had been provisionally identified. Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said there was a “risk” that investigators would “not be able to identify everybody”.

Anger was mounting over a litany of failings that resulted in the tragic incident, as fears grew that the toll could soar to over 100, The Telegraph reported.Grenfell TowerResponding to speculation about the tower toll, Cundy said: “For those of us that have been down there, it’s pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can’t be drawn on the numbers.”

Fire chiefs said they do not expect to find more survivors, while Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry.

Meanwhile, police have escalated its criminal investigation into the fire.

A political row erupted after May made a private visit to the scene, where she spoke to London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton and members of the emergency services, BBC reported.

However, unlike Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, May was not seen talking to the families and residents of the tower.

A former deputy leader of the Conservatives accused May of failing to show “humanity” for not meeting the victims.

Michael Portillo claimed that the Prime Minister should have been ready to be “shouted at”, but instead wanted an “entirely controlled situation”. Labour MP Harriet Harman also criticised May for not meeting residents.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the first victim of the fire was named as Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali, 23.

In a statement, the Syria Solidarity Campaign said Alhajali, a civil engineering student, had been in a flat on the 14th floor when the fire broke out and had spent two hours on the phone talking to a friend in Syria.

He had been trying to get through to his family while he was waiting to be rescued.

“Mohammed came to this country for safety and the UK failed to protect him,” the group said. His older brother, Omar, told the BBC he had lost Mohammed on the way out of the building.

The cause of the fire remained undetermined.

 Wefornews Bureau


Won’t cede even an inch of land, ready for bloody battle: Xi Jinping



Xi Jinping

Beijing, March 20: President Xi Jinping on Tuesday said China won’t cede even an inch of its land and was prepared to fight the bloody battle against its enemies.

“Not a single inch of our land will be or can be ceded from China,” Xi said on the concluding day of the annual session of the National’s People’s Congress – China’s parliament.

“We are resolved to fight the bloody battle against our enemies,” Xi said at the Great Hall.

China fears secession by Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Taiwan is a self-ruled island, which Beijing claims as its own and vows to unite it with China one day.

People in Hong Kong — a former British colony and now a special administrative region of China – resent growing interference by Beijing.

Xi’s views were echoed by Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

“China is resolute in upholding its own territorial integrity and will not abandon an inch of its own land. China will not take and occupy an inch of land of others,” Li said in a press conference on the closing day of the NPC session.


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Donald Trump wants death penalty for drug traffickers



Donald Trump

Washington, March 20: President Donald Trump has said that he would ask for the death penalty for certain “really bad” convicted drug traffickers and will try to toughen sentencing guidelines in an attempt to fight the opioid epidemic that takes 175 lives per day in the US.

On Monday, Trump travelled to New Hampshire to present his plan to deal with the opioid crisis that will have the Department of Justice request the death penalty for drug traffickers although current law does not allow it, reports Efe news.

“This scourge of drug addiction in America will stop,” Trump said in a speech in Manchester.

“It will stop. Failure is not an option. We will raise a drug-free generation of American children.”

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were accompanied by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and several cabinet members to launch the administration’s “Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse” at the Manchester Community College.

“We have to get tough on these people,” said Trump.

“These are terrible people, and that toughness includes the death penalty. They will kill thousands of people in their lifetime, and yet they get caught and go away for 30 days.

“This isn’t about nice anymore… No more ‘let’s have everyone go to a blue ribbon committee and get a medal.’ This is about a very tough problem. If we don’t get tough on these dealers, we are not going to win this battle. I don’t want to leave at the end of seven years and still have this problem,” he said.

Trump said that it was “possible” that Americans might not be prepared to impose the death penalty on all drug traffickers, as some other nations do.

The event was attended by more than 250 community members, law enforcement officials, first responders and local families affected by the opioid crisis.

Also in the audience were New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.

Sessions confirmed in a statement that his department will utilise federal law to seek the death penalty “when appropriate”.

US law permits applying the death penalty only in cases of murders linked to drug trafficking or drugs, according to the independent Death Penalty Information Centre.

The Trump administration also had considered imposing capital punishment on people who traffic even small quantities of fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid used as a painkiller.

Current anti-drug law establishes penalties of up to 20 years behind bars for small traffickers and reserves a term of life in prison for especially serious cases.

According to US Centres for Disease Control figures, 64,000 people died of opioid overdoses in in 2016.


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Afghan government’s peace offer to Taliban

China and the European Union believe the Taliban should accept Ghani’s offer to recognize the movement as a legitimate political group.



Ashraf Ghani

US is concerned over the increasing number of high-profile attacks in Kabul orchestrated by Taliban that is aimed at undermining the Afghan government and international resolve to bring peace to war-torn Afghanistan after 16 years of war as Jakarta is preparing to host a trilateral conference where religious scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia would seek to establish peace and security, and the end of terrorism.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has assured unconditional talks to the Taliban and offered to recognize the group as a political party. The president also offered to provide passports to Taliban members and their families, along with an office in Kabul, but the Afghan Taliban remains skeptical about the Indonesia conference.

Kabul is our main effort. To harden Kabul, to protect the people of Kabul and the international community that are here,” US General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan stated.

To defeat ISIS and Taliban, Washington has shifted resources from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan by adopting the regional approach, Considering the complexities of political realities in Afghanistan, US is working to achieve a reconciliation, a political reconciliation, not a military victory.

As regards with strategic framework of U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s South Asia strategy unveiled in August 2017, it was hoped that Ghani would embark on a path toward more inclusive politics by shaping a broad-based consensus to prepare the grounds for the success of the new U.S. strategy.

General John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan said the United States held a series of private talks with Pakistani officials about the elimination of insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan.

US asserted that the recent pressure applied to Pakistan has not resulted in the reduction of violence in Afghanistan and reiterated that Washington will take steps to cut the aid coming from Pakistan to the Taliban and other groups.

Meanwhile, Head of Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has called on the Taliban to accept government’s peace offer.Hekmatyar said he has sent a peace outline to government and to the Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada and asked him to use the opportunity and join the peace process.

According to Hekmatyar, war is of no benefit to anyone and only the Afghan people are victims of the ongoing conflict. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed NATO’s support of an Afghan-led peace deal. “I commend President Ghani for his courageous leadership. His offer to the Taliban is the clearest invitation to peace yet. So I call on the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. There is an opportunity now to end the conflict”, he added.

China and the European Union believe the Taliban should accept Ghani’s offer to recognize the movement as a legitimate political group.

Arti Bali

Sr Journalist

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